Flip side of Crime in India is very painful for the victim and victim’s family when murderers, rapists get bail on various grounds, roam free to threaten/kill witness to get benefit of doubt due to inconclusive evidence. Story becomes much treacherous when the accused is declared convicted but the time taken for execution of punishment especially capital punishment, is so long it drains entire energy & finance of victim’s family. Story is so long as after conviction through fair trial, conclusive evidence, parole, review petition, mercy petition, on top of these human rights as well and list of privileges & rights is endless, turns nightmarish for victim & family as there are no privilege available to them e.g seeking speedy trial, speedy conviction, speedy execution etc.
In the times of fast track courts too minimum time span for conviction by lower court ranges 3-5 yrs as collection of many evidences such as forensic reports take more than 1-2 yrs due to heavy work load on accounted forensic labs etc.
In year 2000, NDA formed Malimath Committee headed by former Chief Justice of Karnataka Shri VS Malimath; which submitted it’s recommendations on reforms in the criminal justice system in 2003; which were in year 2005 submitted in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2003.
What later followed was Nirbhaya case (Year 2012) a classic example of slower than snail speed of trial despite being most hyped case followed personally by ruling party, opposition parties & govt of India. Trial of this case ripped apart the ground reality of implementation of Recommendation made by Justice VS Malimath Committee.
Recent case of suspicious death of Actor Sushant Singh Rajput is another example which is moving at no speed, no direction and seems to lead no conclusion too.
New age Technology on one end help investigators reach very close to conclusive evidence of crime, on the other end it helps criminal to manipulate /destroy the vital evidence.
Time and again it has come on record that CCTV footage which can help investigation quickly & conclusively reach the accused but in most high profile cases too manipulation/destruction of CCTV footage has become very common ground for benefit of doubt to the accused.
Due to lack of Forensic Infrastructure crucial evidence such as Viscera reports take years and has all possibility to be adulterated/manipulated seriously risking the Justice reaching the Victim.
Witnesses are still being threatened, killed; in many cases Victims too are being threatened, killed. In many cases witnesses are threatened / lured for turning hostile as turning hostile is not an offence. In case of witness is killed/manipulated/becomes hostile no doubt is raised on accused despite he being the sole beneficiary.
Evidences are still being fabricated/manipulated/destroyed as accused’s lawyer knows that conviction cannot happen on Circumstantial evidence and benefit of doubt is privilege for accused.
After Charge-sheet is filed normally accused is granted the bail but in the absence of law for protection of victim & witness both remain vulnerable to threatening, assault, killed, lured to turn hostile during trial.
NDA govt lead by Sh Narendra Modi must review implementation of Recommendations of Justice Malimath Committee on Judicial Reforms and revamp Criminal Law, there is also imminent need to re-look at 03 Principles of Criminal Jurisprudence :
- THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE ITS CASE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT
- THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE
- THE ONUS OF THE PROSECUTION NEVER SHIFTS.
There is also need for following to include in Criminal Law :
a. In the times of High Tech investigation system and also High Tech evidence manipulation/destruction systems, need for direct evidence should not be essential for conviction.
b. In case of any threat/death of victim or witness and also in cases of witness turning hostile accused should be made directly responsible and his Crime should be declared aggravated Crime adding with relevant Sections of Law.
c. Witness turning hostile should be made non bailable and serious offence for Witness.
d. Conviction on Circumstantial Evidence to the extent of minimum Punishment of the Section under which Crime has been registered.
e. In cases of Rape or Murder, Bail should not be granted even after Charge-Sheet is filed, however, conditional Parole should be given for very limited period.
f. There should be no commutation of custody period to reduce term of punishment.
g. No Accused for rape or murder should go scot free for lack of evidence and conviction should happen on circumstantial evidence too.
h. Investigation and Prosecution Officers should be punished by the Court, along with conviction order of accused, for breach of trust, criminal conspiracy , dereliction of duty where-ever Court feels any of such acts by these officers.
Crime rate is litmus paper for the strength of Criminal Justice system of a Country, as it is the Criminal Laws & Justice system which are responsible for speedy & high rate of convictions.
Current Conviction Rate of India is barely 19.9% which should be interpreted as non existence of Justice and accordingly Criminal Law and Trial Process need to restructured. Once done, Criminal-Politician nexus and Corporate Crimes will come under control to a credible count; and there will be no Victim like Nirbhaya and Sushant Singh Rajput , no family of victims will suffer like that of Nirbhaya & Sushant Singh Rajput and no one will dare becoming Mukhtar Ansari or Vikas Dubey, the devils of society.
People of India expect to see Criminal’s speedy encounter with Justice than Justice through Police encounter !